Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 01, 2008

Counterparty Risk Increases

When banks lend or take on other forms of exposure to each other, they gauge the counterparty risk. In recent weeks, there has been a widespread withdrawal of confidence in counterparties that has resulted in efforts to reduce exposure.
Dennis P. Lockhart, President and Chief Executive Officer Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Sep. 30, 2008

Whatever the best way to regain confidence in counterparties may be, this isn't it:

Under pressure from banks and legislators, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued an interpretation of an accounting standard that could make it easier for banks to report smaller losses, or perhaps even profits, when they announce results for the third quarter, which ended Tuesday.

Now nobody will trust the Q3 results of any bank. Counterparty risk will be perceived as higher than before. The interbank credit market will freeze further.

It starts to feel like there is an intend to make the outcome as bad as possible.

Posted by b on October 1, 2008 at 8:03 UTC | Permalink


The naked intent of this Congress is to move the USA into a managed economy, handing dictatorial control to a tiny clique of bankers. The much bandied phrase "socialism for the rich" hardly covers it. The naked intent is to place FIRE (Finance, Investment, Real Estate) atop the entire economy -- permanently.

A permanent coup by the holders of assets and monies.

For Congress to push this dictatorial package so madly, so relentlessly, even as many dozens of economists say it will have no real effect on the insolvency crisis, even as the public outcry against it is full of rage, and running at better than 200 to 1 against it, speaks volumes about intent.

Congress sees no economic future for America other than FIRE. No manufacturing revival, no green economy, no high tech, no revitalization, just a weary flogging of the oil-burning economy that has been the underpinnings of America for a century.

This Congress will carry us all the way forward to 1980.

Posted by: Antifa | Oct 1 2008 10:47 utc | 1

Lewis Carroll meets Franz Kafka.

Posted by: Maxcrat | Oct 1 2008 11:54 utc | 2

As soon as the dems recant and take out the bits about the state getting some sort of shareholding for the money, the rethugs will vote for it. After all you can't have a situation where taxpayers get anything in return for their $700 billion - old Joe MacArthy knew that was un-amerikan.

I still don't share b's opinion that this was a deliberate trap by the rethugs for the dems, but it may as well have been. By sheer lucky cock-up the rethugs have managed to turn what should have been a 'lose lose' for them after all it has been pretty much all rethug stewardship of the economy for the last decade, into a 'lose lose' for the dems.

The dems can't vote it down now as they will have their refusal to bail out the banks chained to them and cop the blame for the inevitable ctrash that's cpming.

If they vote for the changed bill which favours the taxpayers even less they will be seen to be weak for giving in to the rethugs plus when the inevitable crash happens they will cop the blame.

All of this because Pelosi and Obama couldn't wait and let the rethugs shoot themselves in the foot. sheer hubris had them prematurely acting out the roles they thought were in the bag with Obama in the whitehouse and dem majority in congress in 09 now the whole thing is coming across as a dem fuck up when a bit of patience woulda had the rethugs skinned by this mess.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Oct 1 2008 12:10 utc | 3

Still, conspiracy or not, GOP setup or not, I think things have gone too fast and too far now. They won't avoid the collapse, things are in motion, that cannot be stopped, even by Wall Street, even by Congress. They will fall, hard, and what's happening these days as well as what will happen will be studied by historians for decades.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Oct 1 2008 12:54 utc | 4

Barry Ritholtz on the SEC rule change: Understanding the Significance of Mark-to-Market Accounting

If investors cannot trust the valuations of what is on a firms books, they simply cannot invest in these firms PERIOD.

There are other alternatives for the institutions that now must deal with this discounted, thinly traded hard to value junk paper. They can sell it for whatever price a the market will bear, they can spin it off into a separate holding company, they can write it down to zero and reap the rewards of mark ups in future quarters.

But suspending the proper accounting of this paper is the refuge of cowards. It reflects a refusal to admit the original error, it hides the mistake, and it misleads shareholders. I find it to be totally unacceptable solution to the current crisis.

As Japan learned, not taking the write downs only delays the day of reckoning. They propped up insolvent banks, and suffered a decade long recession for it. That way disaster lay . . .

Posted by: b | Oct 1 2008 13:54 utc | 5

Houston, we have a problem.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Oct 1 2008 14:37 utc | 7

I believe that suspending the mark-to-matket accounting for these toxic piece of paper is partly related to the bailout. With mark-to-market accounting suspended, the banks that own these toxic assets can value them higher than they are worth, then they can sell them to the govt. at the 62c per share that has been floating around.

Since most people do not understand the accounting gimmick, then they would believe that they are not getting screwed by the banks. If the share is valued at 62c and the govt buys it at that price, then no one can claim that the taxpayer is getting hosed. Politicians will get the cover they need to vote for the bailout. They can appear on the MSM and claim that they are protecting the taxpayer by buying the assets as the market has priced them.

This is beyond dispicable.

Posted by: ndahi | Oct 1 2008 14:54 utc | 8

"It starts to feel like there is an intent to make the outcome as bad as possible" -

Some conspiracy theories go too far, some not far enough, and I try to follow the "Goldilocks" principle of "the middle way" - but of course we are all Bayesians, and interpret new information within the constraints of what we think we already know

Still, Idries Shah once wrote something like "You'd be surprised how often your malevolence is interpreted as thoughtlessness, and vice versa" - if we turn this around, as Emmanuel Kant (principle of the categorical imperative) and Monty Python ("people aren't wearing enough hats") would recommend, perhaps we can believe that those we oppose are ill-informed and/or unreasonable and/or immaturely self-centered, rather than simply evil

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. | Oct 1 2008 15:10 utc | 9

mc phd #9

we can believe that those we oppose are ill-informed and/or unreasonable and/or immaturely self-centered, rather than simply evil

Not evil, apparently they don't believe in good and evil. Such ethics and all religions are for the>masses and some of the functionaries, not the tippy-top.

Posted by: plushtown | Oct 1 2008 15:35 utc | 10

link in #10 was actually planned to be this, as more apropos to the quote:>sheep and sheepdog

Also apropos, but more academic:>Nuremberg chronicler and sheepdog

Posted by: plushtown | Oct 1 2008 15:41 utc | 11

(Antifa) "Congress sees no economic future for America other than FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate.) No manufacturing revival, no green economy, no high tech, no revitalization, just a weary flogging of the oil-burning economy that has been the underpinnings of America for a century."

This visionary pronouncement has a great ring of truth to it. Of course, totally unprovable, but still fun to think about. I would just add one more sector to FIRE -- the military. As Hellena Cobban pointed out, every year we're spending the equivalent of the proposed bailout on the regular military budget and the wars.

A Marxist speaker on KPFA yesterday (Pacifica radio, Berkeley, CA) called much of what's been happening for the past 15 years or so (globalization era) "primitive accumulation", or "accumulation by dispossession." Others have compared the current lootings by Goldman Sachs and their ilk (Enron, eg), to the sell-off of Russian state assets under Yeltsin.

Posted by: seneca | Oct 1 2008 15:45 utc | 12

Antifa, you are spot on about what the true motives of what's
really happening in our economy. Call it fascism, plutocracy,
kleptocracy or oligarchy, it's really all of these that are
occurring now in the U.S. Capitalism in many respects is going
back to its 19th century roots which was the age of the robber
barons, Social Darwinism and the Guilded Age.

Couple that with 21st century technology and a deregulated global economy and you begin to see the outlines of the financial NWO.

Its outlines are frightening in their implications for those
who are not a part the global financial elite.

Posted by: ecoli | Oct 1 2008 16:00 utc | 13

they want all the money. they tried to get it legally w/the privatization of social security scam and that didn't work. what's the difference? just a huge infusion of cash into wall street. they didn't get it the SS way and this is just another framing of the same scam. they want to control all the money.

fuck them

Posted by: annie | Oct 1 2008 17:19 utc | 14

douglas valentine pointing out today @ counterpunch what some of us have been thinking
Has the Long-Awaited National Emergency Finally Arrived?

Would Bush dare use the current economic crisis as a pretext to declare a national emergency and invoke his continuity powers?

Yes, indeedy! In fact, he's been waiting for this moment for a long time, all along. And now, with McCain in a tailspin and about to crash like he did 41 years ago, and with the Afrrican-born Muslim and black anti-Christ Barack Obama about to ascend, with the help of dirty Democrat majorities in both houses in Congress, the moment for direct political action has never been riper.

Hang onto your hats, kids, it's gonna be a wild ride ahead.

let's hope we're wrong, but cheney et al are & have been the drivers behind the COG program since the gitgo & so many of the pieces do appear to be falling into place now

Posted by: b real | Oct 1 2008 17:26 utc | 15

It starts to feel like there is an intend to make the outcome as bad as possible.

Yes, there is.

Posted by: | Oct 1 2008 17:35 utc | 16

psychologists call it co-dependence. In the hood, we just say "hellloooo-what-part-of-this-do'nt-you-understand ?"

and I was talking to my friend yesterday and mentioned that without the $700B bailout, the economy could crumble. And she said "we've had enough, let it all come down, we'll sort it out afterwards..."

a little optimistic & cavalier perhaps but theres a lot of anger out there. Its mostly good anger though, so I think the American peeps have passed their first test. Quite easily actually, which is very encouraging.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 1 2008 17:57 utc | 17

by the way, I do'nt think Obama is ever going to evoke the memory of Ronald Reagan ever again

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 1 2008 18:06 utc | 18

jesus b real. tha market crashing is one thing, i'm not ready for marshal law.

Posted by: annie | Oct 1 2008 18:30 utc | 19

Now, now.

Marshall Law is a reasonable fellow. Marshall and I go way back to the union busting days, and I can assure you that once you grok his obsessive need for straight lines, and making lists, and screaming right in your face, he's really only got your best interests at heart.

But he's just the good cop.

It's his cousin, Jack Bootz, you need to watch out for. Black helicopters, forklift pallets full of shrink-wrapped hundred dollar bills, pre-dawn raids in the tenements, that's his thing -- every horror story you've ever heard about this guy is probably true. He's the kind who shoots first and never does get around to asking questions later.

He's the bad cop, the one Marshall is forever restraining if he can, or pretending to. Come to think of it, Jack seems to get his hands on Marshall's lists pretty regular like . . .

That there must be the part of this I don't understand.

Posted by: Antifa | Oct 1 2008 18:58 utc | 20

Quit worrying about martial law! Bush is tired, Cheney is worse. They just want to get out of town, start drinking seriously again, and chase little boys around their digs in Uruguay.

Anyway, martial law has many flavors -- many "tolerable", some already in place. Worry about Democratic totalitarianism instead.

Posted by: seneca | Oct 1 2008 19:06 utc | 21

You rubes. You fools.

Over here at the Upper East Side Liberation Army, we are actively stealing the last dregs of fungible assets, and usable credit left in either the Treasury or the taxable incomes of the next two generations.

If weeping for the masses, or for any particular one of you working cretins, was in our nature -- now would be the time to weep.

Tonight, our Senators will pass the same damn bill the House farted on a few days ago. On Friday, the House will pass the same damn bill they farted on previously, and pronounce it delicious. The only difference is they've put lipstick on the pig, instead of an apple.

Two things will happen before Christmas. One, our $700 Billion will magically turn out to be double that amount, or more, and prove to have no discernible effect on either the credit freeze we have put in place, or on the deleveraging of the bloated debt economy.

Two, the unrest this causes will have you rubes, you fools, begging Congress and the President for martial law so you can feel safe standing in your friendly, neighborhood bread lines.

Posted by: UESLA | Oct 1 2008 19:34 utc | 22

At HuffPost there was a story "The Virtual Economy." In my comment, I stated

I'd like to recommend the work of Dr. Michael Hudson, "a financial economist and former chief economic advisor to presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. In part one of this wide ranging interview, originally broadcast on the Pacifica program Guns and Butter, Hudson explains how the parasitic dominance of the financial sector has led to the creation of a completely fictitious U.S. economy which creates nothing, but is exclusively devoted to extracting wealth from the rest of us." See the rest at

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. | Oct 1 2008 21:22 utc | 23


jack bootz? i don't ever wanna meet him.

Posted by: annie | Oct 1 2008 23:02 utc | 24

youtube video of protest @ wallstreet "the">">"the bailout: you broke it, you broke it, you bought it"

Posted by: annie | Oct 1 2008 23:07 utc | 25

another version

Posted by: beq | Oct 2 2008 0:07 utc | 26

This is ( badly translated) comment of one Serbian guy who lives in USA and work in a finance industry:

Whole left-right/lib-con angle is artificially manufactured and sold to the people here instead of realization that country is steadily ruined under both parties for last 40 years.
Dubiousness and excesses are that big that it is for a long time now beyond politics. Same with outer commitments (or precisely entrapments).
57T unfunded entitlement liabilities. Almost 5 times GDP. Kaput. Gonzo. Not payable.
But easily inflatable.
That’s why we have de facto police state continuation of government / torture legislation
pushed in last 7 years. All we now need is another "catastrophic and catalyzing event". Because you can’t run Empire of “empty wallet” any other way…

Posted by: vbo | Oct 2 2008 0:33 utc | 27

The wall street protest videos are phenomenal - thanks for posting. This happened under my radar screen ( and evidently a lot of other people's too.)

Posted by: Maxcrat | Oct 2 2008 1:59 utc | 28

Here's what Warren Buffett got for "his" $8B:

Two of the top capitalized blue-chip firms in the US. PERPETUAL PREFERRED SHARES of Goldman Sachs!
That means Buffett goes out at the top, anytime he wants to exercise, he's first in line before shareholders!
He bought at the absolute bottom, right before he bet Congress would quadruple his investment last Monday.

From GE, Buffett gets $3 billion of preferred stock in a private offering. The stock pays a dividend of 10 percent,
and G.E. can purchase the shares back from Mr. Buffett after three years by paying a 10 percent premium,
or $3.3 billion. <-- e.g. Buffett risked nothing! He automatically gets 110% return on his $3 B investment!

But the real payoff for Mr. Buffett will come if G.E.’s battered stock rebounds. As part of the financing,
Berkshire Hathaway is receiving warrants to purchase $3 billion of G.E. common stock for $22.25 a share,
at any time over the next five years. In regular trading, G.E. shares closed down $1 a share on
Wednesday, at $24.50 a share. <-- e.g. Buffett automatically wired in another 10% return on his investment,
and with our taxpayer bailout of GE Capital, probably 100% on both GE and GS.


Now what do US taxpayers get?

We will have the "right", although no Treasury administrator will exercise it, to receive common shares of
junk-status financing companies, after we pay somewhere north of 62¢ on the $1 for their junk-status assets
valued somewhere between 30¢, to as low as 3¢. <-- Automatically Paulson has wired in a -50% loss for US!

In all likelikhood, no shares will be offered, and none requested. We'll be sitting on a steaming pile of shit,
that we just lost anywhere from -50% to -95% on, not counting -50% more in administrative and origination fees,
transfer taxes, refinancing, oh yeah, you bought it, you keep paying property taxes on it and carrying costs,
home owner's association dues including back dues, yeah, you've really bought some choice assets!!

Those property's will rot in the sun and blizzard, un-airconditioned, unheated, waiting for buyers who can
never qualify, leaking, festering, filled with black mold, and oh, yes, you as the taxpayer will pay for the
remediation too, even if it costs more than the value of the asset, up to whatever Paulson paid for it!!

And we'll pay China an automatically guaranteed 30% interest rate on the money Paulson is mismanaging.
We are looking at, at MINIMUM, an -80% immediate loss in value of our investment! Even during the Great
Depression, stocks didn't drop -80%. This is the first Congressional Act in US history creating a Depression!

?Stock warrants good for five years, at a price lower than today's closing? Are you smoking meth again?
That's for the fat cats we're bailing out. They'll get their rocks off, and we'll get our spotted blue dress.
And maybe a cigar if we smile nice, and you know, go down slow.

Posted by: Cher Izad | Oct 2 2008 3:47 utc | 29

beq, thanks for posting that.

vbo, Whole left-right/lib-con angle is artificially manufactured and sold to the people here instead of realization that country is steadily ruined under both parties

this reminded me of something i heard tonight from some congress critter on rachael maddow. he said they were trying to pass the vote while accommodating every senator up for reelection (letting them take the no votes). because all the constituents (across the board), all the feedback was to not pass the bill. so wft, who are they working for!? then i heard a senator from seattle, cantwell, who is always being derided by very outspoken progressives to move left (she often doesn't), she's up for reelection and she voted no. hmm. throwing us a bone.


Posted by: annie | Oct 2 2008 4:51 utc | 30

let wall street take it on the chin I would have too, wouldn’t u?

Posted by: rawdawgbuffalo | Oct 2 2008 15:53 utc | 31

Today, 18 million single-family homes and condominiums in the United States are empty.

ouch. from spiegel's 5 pg THE END OF ARROGANCE
America Loses Its Dominant Economic Role

opens w/

The banking crisis is upending American dominance of the financial markets and world politics. The industrialized countries are sliding into recession, the era of turbo-capitalism is coming to an end and US military might is ebbing. Still, this is no time to gloat.

Posted by: annie | Oct 2 2008 16:25 utc | 32

Also from the Spiegel article linked by annie:

In light of the almost daily reports of losses in the financial sector, it seemed almost secondary to note that the disaster had also turned into one of the biggest criminal investigations in American history. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is already investigating 26 large financial corporations as well as 1,400 smaller companies and private citizens for possible fraud.

Yes, why aren't we hearing more about this, and can the House stall the bailout long enough for the FBI to go public with their evidence?

But it's hard to forget how this president's mentors celebrated the power to shape world affairs the United States acquired in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the East-West conflict. There was talk of a "unipolar moment," of "America's moment," even of an "end of history," now that all other countries apparently had no other choice but to become smaller versions of America: liberal, democratic and buoyed by an unshakeable confidence in the free market economy.

Say bye-bye to the "New American Century, errr um, New American Eight Years." Shortest century in history.

Posted by: catlady | Oct 2 2008 17:54 utc | 33

Joe Bageant has a rant up at Counterpunch.

Folks, they’ve got us all by the nuts and nipples. McCain knows that. Obama knows that. In the end, regardless of the so-called dissenters in the House and the Senate, we will pay up. It s election season and the dissent is for show.
We will pay because the only language we have to describe our world is that of our oppressors because we have been taught to think in Wall Speak. We will pay because we hitched our wagon to last stage capitalism and even though the wagon has now two wheels over the cliff and roars forward, we don’t know where the brake handle is located. And because we don’t know any better or understand any possible resistance to the system because we have been kept like worms in a jar and fed horse shit.

Posted by: catlady | Oct 2 2008 18:20 utc | 34

Mike Whitney also has a new one up at Counterpunch: "Why the Bailout Stinks." Y'know, stuff like foreign banks shifting their shit debt into their Murkan branches to pass on to us, da peeps, or mergers designed to profit from the collapsing cesspool....

Bunch of good'uns at Counterpunch today, including Paul Craig Robert's headliner.

The US government needs to choose between its financial system and its wars. As the wars serve no US interest except for those of a few powerful interest groups, the government should declare an immediate end to the wars, thus reducing the budget deficit by at least $200 billion annually.

Posted by: catlady | Oct 2 2008 18:36 utc | 35


There is a room filled with 1,000 newly hired Department of Home and Financial Security employees,
each one hired for their acumen in preparing accounts payable (A/P's).

They begin their task of writing checks for the recent Treasury auction blitzkreig, just in time for
Christmas for the wealthy.

Each check takes 1 minute to confirm the account numbers, cross reference the tax documents,
and write the date, payee and amount from the Treasury auction settlement.

The stack of checks goes to another room where 100 newly hired senior auditors sit and carefully
compare the printouts with the checks, before signing them officially. It takes 2 minutes for each
check, because these are senior auditors.

The stack of signed checks goes to the mailroom, where 10 newly hired mail clerks fold the 3-part checks,
insert them into envelopes, stamp them and ZIP+4 them to go. It takes 3 minutes per check, because
the mail clerks are unsupervised in the basement.

The Department of Home and Financial Security supervisor quickly realizes he has a problem on his hands.

Can you figure out what it is?

Let's see, 6,000,000 checks, 1,000 clerks at 1 minute each check is 6,000 minutes, not bad.
And 100 supervisors at 2 minutes per check is 120,000 minutes, OK, well, we'll "move forward"
on that one. And finally, 10 mail clerks at 3 minutes per check is 1,800,000 minutes.

3.7 years just to sign the (^&%(*&%^($^&*$ Mother of All Bailouts A/P checks!!!!!

So let's go back and bump up Federal employment so we can get these checks out by Christmas!
The bailout was passed and signed into law on October 17th. The auction blitzkreig in blind-blocks
of 30,000 assets per auction unit took another 30 days. We only have 37 days left to Christmas!

Treasury will have to hire 365,000 pay clerks, and 36,500 senior supervisors,
but only 3,650 mail clerks!

There's your problem! Life just isn't fair for the bottom rung!!!

[If you think I did the math wrong, you obviously know
nothing about Federal government employment practices!]

Posted by: Peris Troika | Oct 2 2008 19:50 utc | 36

Rep. Brad Sherman says Congress threatened with Martial Law if bill is not passed

Did you get that? Do you get the significance of that?


Whose the terrorist's again?

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.

Thomas Jefferson, Letter to the Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin (1802)
3rd president of US (1743 - 1826)

Posted by: Alert! Breaking news..Uncle $cam | Oct 3 2008 15:03 utc | 37

Just to clarify, Uncle, Sherman is no doubt talking about Congressional Martial Law, not tanks in the streets:

Under the martial law procedure, longstanding House rules that require at least one day between the unveiling of significant legislation and the House floor vote on that legislation — so that Members can learn what they are being asked to vote on — are swept away. Instead, under “martial law,” the Leadership can file legislation with tens or hundreds of pages of fine print and move immediately to debate and votes on it, before Members of Congress, the media, or the public have an opportunity to understand fully what provisions have been altered or inserted into the legislation behind closed doors. This is the procedure that the Leadership intends to use to muscle through important bills in the next two days.

Still not what we'd like to call 'democracy,' though, is it?

Posted by: Tantalus | Oct 3 2008 15:23 utc | 38

The linked article, btw, does NOT refer to current events but to something from 2006 - linked from Wikipedia as their ref. for 'Congressional Martial Law.'

Posted by: Tantalus | Oct 3 2008 15:24 utc | 39

Tantalus, if what you are saying is correct, he did not imply this in the way he used the term

'"Many of us were told...a few members were even told there would be marshal law in America if we voted NO" "

Posted by: annie | Oct 3 2008 17:23 utc | 40

No, you're right, Annie - "a few members," though, ie not him? Could he have got his wires crossed?

Martial law, btw: the law of war.

Anyway, why would they need martial law? The people are as passive as ever, aren't they? Largely speaking, I mean, not a few placard-wavers on corners...

Posted by: Tantalus | Oct 3 2008 18:03 utc | 41

Anyway, why would they need martial law?

you mean why would they need marshal law if the house didn't pass the measure? maybe people wouldn't be so passive if the market closed down.

Helping ‘people at home’ may become a permanent part of the active Army

But this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.

how reassuring

Posted by: annie | Oct 3 2008 19:10 utc | 42

Please, I beg of you, spell it correctly, will you? You are brutalizing the English language, and you won't even cease and desist when people point it out to you. It's Martial Law, not Marshal, or Marshall. How do you, or any of the others here who keep spelling it incorrectly, expect anyone to take you seriously when you make such ignorant gaffes?

Posted by: Marshal Tito's Marshall Plan | Oct 4 2008 12:10 utc | 43

sorry Marshal tito!

Posted by: annie | Oct 4 2008 13:32 utc | 44

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